CATS Awards for Alan, Blythe and a pat on the back for Scottish Theatre in General

THE annual Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland (CATS) at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, honoured nine different productions in 10 awards, at a sell-out event that also marked the 50th anniversary of the Traverse Theatre.

Actor Alan Cumming took the Best Male Performance award for his stunning performance of Macbeth, in which he played all the parts,  and which was described by the judges as “one of the most memorable moments in Scottish theatre this year”. The play is currently running on Broadway, from where Cumming said, “I’m very grateful to the Scottish theatre critics, especially as Macbeth is the thing I am most proud of in my whole career. Thank you very much, it really means a lot to me for something I feel so proud of to be honoured by my country.”

Taggart star Blythe Duff took home the award for Best Female Performance for playing husband-killer Fay Black, in Iron, a Firebrand Theatre production. The judges said she gave a “thrillingly ambiguous and unsentimental performance in which she never let us be certain whether she was an innocent victim or a calculating psychopath”.

Theatre company Stellar Quines picked up the Best Production Award for The List, Perth Theatre scooped Best Director Award for Rachel O’Riordan with The Seafarer and Best Ensemble Award for The Seafarer while Rob Drummond won the Best New Play Award with Quiz Show.

The special CATS Whiskers award was given to the inaugural artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland, Vicky Featherstone, in recognition of her contribution to Scottish theatre in the seven years since the National Theatre company was formed.

The breadth of performances and indeed the shortlist itself sees an encouraging openness in Scottish Theatre. Joyce McMillan, the co-convenor of the awards, said, “That nine different productions are recognised in the 10 award categories at this year’s CATS speaks volumes about the calibre of work being produced across the country.”

Of particular note are the National Theatre  and Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum who were both up for eight nominations. Interestingly, the Lyceum’s nominations were mainly co-productions. Takin’ Over the Asylum was a joint production with Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre, with the actors rehearsing in Edinburgh before opening in Glasgow. Time and the Conways saw a collaboration with Dundee Rep and The Guid Sisters was a joint venture with the NTS. What this seems to suggest is not so much that a theatre company can’t afford large-scale productions but that by joining forces with another company they can achieve something of real merit.

The CATS judging panel for 2013 was made up of: Mary Brennan (The Herald), Anna Burnside (The Independent), Irene Brown (Edinburgh Guide), Mark Brown (The Sunday Herald and the Daily Telegraph), Neil Cooper (The Herald), Michael Cox (, Robert Dawson Scott (The Times), Thom Dibdin (The Stage and Annals of the Edinburgh Stage), Mark Fisher (The Guardian), Joyce McMillan (The Scotsman), Allan Radcliffe (The Times), Gareth K Vile (The List) and Joy Watters (

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Suse Coon

Suse Coon started life training to be an architect but ended up as a fashion buyer then civil servant. After some time out to bring up her family of three, she returned to what had been a hobby and entered the field of freelance journalism. After becoming regional correspondent, then editor of the orienteering magazine CompassSport, she formed Pages Editorial & Publishing Services. In this guise, West Lothian Life was launched, while Suse maintained a level of freelancing and wrote the award winning children's novel Richard's Castle. In 1999, Suse bought over CompassSport and found her time taken up pretty well exclusively with the two magazines. In 2004, West Lothian Life was expanded to form Lothian Life, however, the workload was too great. In 2006, CompassSport was sold and Suse concentrated on the web version of Lothian Life. Her hobbies include gardening, orienteering, sea kayaking and Tai Chi.

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